Sample Session: The Heart of a Leader


Length: 32 min 52 sec

If this is your first experience with CityLead, or your first time reading our CityLead TakeAway, we want to welcome you! Here at CityLead, we believe that by coming together once a month as a business community, we can make each of our cities a better place to live, work, worship, and play. In every CityLead session, we look at one of three types of leadership through a Biblical lens: self-leadership, team leadership, and organizational leadership.

Today, we’re talking about the heart of a leader,* which includes the ideal essence, characteristics, and attitude of a leader. As you go through the content in this CityLead TakeAway, we’d like you to ask yourself five questions as you consider what you do in your business or nonprofit, and in your relationships, and how you can use your gifts, abilities, and resources to improve the community where you are.

Question 1: Are you passionate about what you do?

103,000. On average, that’s the number of hours someone will work at a job in their lifetime if they work 47 hours a week for 47 weeks a year for 47 years. Now ask yourself, are you passionate enough about what you do to spend 103,000 hours or more doing it? If not, it might be time to look for a new job or career. If you don’t already know your passion, find someone else who knows theirs and learn from them.

Question 2: Are you a listener and a learner?

Learning doesn’t stop when you receive your diploma at graduation. Don’t stop learning just because you’ve ended your formal education. Take the opportunity to listen to others, learn what wisdom they have to share, and apply it to your own life.

Are you a reader?

Reading is a major part of learning. When we say reading, we don’t just mean books – although that is great too. The type of reading we’re referring to applies more to situational reading. Can you read the room? Do you know how to read others’ true feelings, or read the future by looking at current trends? Look people in the eye when you’re talking to them. Make that connection. Then, ask a question and just listen.

Question 3: Are you a truth-teller?

Unfortunately, business people have the reputation of not being truth-tellers. Many of us, especially in certain industries, are known for over-promising and under-delivering. As a result, people are less likely to trust us. How do we change that perception? One word: authenticity.


Transparency and authenticity are two words that are used interchangeably but mean different things. Transparency is going into an ice cream shop and being able to see the different flavors of ice cream through the glass. Authenticity is being able to taste the ice cream; to test it out and see what it’s really like. When people are truly authentic, it’s easier to build trust. As Stephen Covey put it in his book, The Speed of Trust, when trust is up, cost is down. In other words, if you have repeat customers who know and trust you, you don’t have to spend much to keep their business. On the flip side, when trust is low, cost is up, meaning you have to spend more to get and keep new customers when you have none who trust you.

Question 4: Are you personally accountable?

We have business accountability, auditors, etc. that keep our institutions accountable. But do you prioritize accountability for yourself? Do you hold yourself to the high standard that you expect others to meet? If not, maybe it’s time to do some self-evaluation.

Question 5: Are you humble?

At CityLead, we love to see leaders of a company giving credit to all the lower-level workers below them instead of taking it for themselves. That’s shared gratitude: acknowledging and being thankful for what every other team member does versus trying to pretend you’ve done all the work yourself. When an organization has a culture of shared gratitude, the employees are healthier and happier. Customers and clients see this and respond with loyalty.

As leaders, we have some of the greatest gifts and opportunities not just to make our own lives better, but to change others’ lives for good. Let us not waste that opportunity. We hope you learned a lot from today’s CityLead session, and we can’t wait to see you at the next one!

*Some of the content in this CityLead session was inspired by the book, The Heart of a Leader, by Ken Blanchard.

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